A pair of plays: MCC to perform ‘Lady in Waiting,’ ‘Proof’

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–As actors and audiences continue their triumphant return to the theatre, Muscatine Community College invites area residents to come see not one but two plays. April 15 through 17, the Muscatine Community College Theatre Department will perform both the world premiere of “Lady in Waiting,” a 10-minute play written by current Muscatine Community College student Leigha Armstrong, and Pulitzer Prize winning full length play “Proof.”

About a year ago, Armstrong took a playwriting class through the University of Iowa and wrote a 10-minute play she titled “Lady in Waiting” for her final. The play chronicles the choices of a lady in waiting as she helps the princess she serves get rid of unwanted suitors and the surprising motivations that underlie her actions.

When Armstrong transferred to Muscatine Community College last fall, she told her introduction to theatre professor, Theatre Director Alyssa Oltmanns, about the play and Oltmanns agreed to read it and help workshop it. To Oltmanns’ surprise, she found the play nearly performance ready and offered to premiere it, if Armstrong felt up to the challenge.

Ecstatic, Armstrong accepted the invitation and has enjoyed bringing her creation to life before finishing her time at Muscatine Community College and transferring to Columbia College in Chicago to study theatre design and technology. “It’s so exciting; honestly it’s my favorite thing I’m doing at the moment,” she enthused.

Oltmanns’ feels equally delighted to give students and the community the opportunity to see a new play as it makes its debut. “This really is a one of a kind experience,” she observed. “We have a student playwright who wrote a very polished script, and I don’t know when the Muscatine Community will see something like this again.”

Following the performance of “Lady in Waiting,” a quartet of actors will pick up where that show left off, exploring relationships, family, and the importance of caring for yourself in more detail in “Proof.” “Proof,” follows a young woman named Catherine as she picks up the pieces of her life after her father, a celebrated mathematician who suffered from chronic mental health issues, dies. Catherine must renegotiate her relationships with her older sister, Claire, and one of her father’s former students, Hal, and determine for herself how much of her father’s genius and mental health concerns she inherited.

A critically acclaimed show, Oltmans had long thought about putting it on at Muscatine Community College and originally planned to open it fall semester of 2019. Shortly before the performance opened, she contracted laryngitis, and she and the original cast rescheduled their performances to spring of 2020. However, the pandemic forced them to put it on hold. In the two years that followed, two of the original cast members moved away and one grew busy with other commitments, leading Oltmans to recast it.

Still, the actors and production staff consider this show well worth coming to see: “I studied this show when I was in college, and it’s hands down one of my very favorite non-comedy shows. I’ve always wanted to be a part of it,” said MCC alumna Courtney Cooper, who plays Claire. She encourages people to see it because, “it’s a play that actually makes you think.”

Muscatine Community College will hold their pair of plays April 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. and April 17 at 2 p.m. The shows will take place in their little theatre at 152 Colorado Street in Muscatine. Tickets cost $10 for the general public and $5 for Eastern Iowa Community Colleges faculty and staff. Students at any school may attend for free with their student ID.

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